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Friday, March 18, 2011

Organic Market Visit in Kochi

A good friend took my wife and I to visit an organic market today. I was able to reflect a little on what has happened in Japan during the past week. The market is located in a park, next to a river and surrounded by mountains. One fact that stood out in the market was how most of the things that were sold there were hand made, using natural materials without electricity.

Farm fresh vegetables and fruit. Honey. Dried fish. Unpolished rice. Many sundry cakes, cookies and sweets, all made by hand in small kitchens. Hand sewn clothes. Hand made jewelry. Hand made wooden cutlery. Hand made bamboo baskets. Hand made soaps made with natural ingredients. Guitar performances. All things that could be made, if we were asked to work without electricity. And all that we need, to live. In fact, when we see pictures of people surviving after the earthquake and tsunami, these are some of the things they are eating and using.

I am the first person to complain when I don't have a mobile signal or a wifi signal, and I love my iPhone 3GS, my iPad and my MacBook Pro, so it was ironic that during our exodus from Kawasaki the battery for my MacBook Pro was damaged. Every time we leave the hotel it needs to be shutdown, because it can not operate with battery power. The hotel uses the room key card as a breaker for power in the room. This means each time I need to shut down and then restart the compter. It seems very inconvenient because I am used to having a working battery. For anyone used to using a laptop, not having a battery is a major inconvenience. It takes away the meaning of having a laptop. Why pay extra for a laptop if it doesn't work. I am so used to always having power, anywhere, that not having it or being threatened with power rationing, was a valuable experience. I think after this earthquake and the multiple nuclear meltdown at TEPCO's Fukushima plant, solar power and batteries are going to be some of my focuses.

Technology did help me incredibly during the quake and its immediate aftermath I was able to contact my Indonesian family via skype on my iPhone and via SMS on my Docomo phone. My pregnant wife was teaching at an elementary school. The local mobile service was overwhelmed and unavailable. My brother-in-law in Indonesia was able to call her and then to call me. My sister-in-law in Indonesia was also able to call me. So without this wonderful technology we wouldn't have been able to reunite so easily. Many thanks to these systems and the men and women who kept them running.

After all that has happened in Japan in the last week, I believe that a deep understanding of natural systems is going to be the future of our society. Looking at how natural disasters influenced our lifelines shows us that solar power does have a value above and beyond the monthly utility price. Governments need to seriously look at getting clean and safe energy for transportation, distribution, industrial, agricultural and domestic uses. I am not advocating a return to life as it was 100 years ago. However, I will be reconsidering what is important, and to realize that convenience may not be worth the low cost.

1 comment:

  1. Great story Don. Good to talk to you and Elok in Kochi. Glad things are going better for you both. Kristi

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